Peter Khalil: I held an NDIS stakeholder forum in my electorate of Wills to coincide with the rollout of the scheme in the area. I was pleased to be joined by Bill Shorten, champion Paralympian Dylan Alcott and representatives from the Brotherhood of St Laurence. The NDIS is Australia’s biggest social policy reform since Medicare. I’m reminded of the Productivity Commission’s recent report which described it as a once-in-a-generation, groundbreaking reform. It is that, but it’s also about making sure people with disability have the care and support that they need to lead strong and independent lives. But this rollout hasn’t been without issues. At the forum, we had the opportunity to hear from participants, users, carers and family members about the issues around accessibility, casework consistency and planning. Many were struggling to be heard.
Labor created the NDIS in 2013 after strong leadership from Bill Shorten when he was parliamentary secretary for disabilities. He, from the start, was determined to make a real difference to people’s lives and, through his interactions with carers and disabled Australians, he developed a deep empathy for their needs. I think it was that combination of ambition to do something and empathy that led him to being such an effective and passionate architect and advocate for the NDIS. It’s a reform that, if implemented correctly, will transform for the better the lives of people with disability, their families and carers. People with disability have waited their whole lives for the NDIS, so it’s vital that we all work together in this place and put aside our partisanship to make it a success.